Saturday, March 19, 2011

Week 12: Hamantaschen

This Sunday, March 20 is the Jewish holiday of Purim. We celebrate our victory over the evil villain Haman in ancient Persia by dressing in costumes, giving gifts of food, and making the iconic Purim pastry: hamantaschen. These triangular pastries, traditionally made with fruit or poppyseed filling, are easy to come by in my hometown of Los Angeles. In San Jose, not so much. So I conquered my fear of dough and rolling pins this week by attempting hamantaschen for the first time. Here's how to make them -- no baking experience required.
Apricot and chocolate hamantaschen
What You Need
For the dough:
(dough recipe adapted from Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora by Tina Wasserman)

  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated zest from 1/2 orange
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • confectioner's sugar

For the apricot filling:
(filling recipe from Gale Gand on

  • 2 cups finely chopped dried apricots
  • 1-1/3 cups orange juice
  • 2/3 cup honey
  • grated zest from 1/2 orange

For the chocolate filling:

  • Trader Joe's semi-sweet chocolate callets (chocolate disks for baking)


  • cookie sheet
  • parchment paper
  • 2-1/2 or 3-inch round cookie cutter
  • electric mixer
  • rolling pin

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until thoroughly combined. Add the eggs, vanilla, and orange zest, and beat until lighter in color and fluffy. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until the mixture starts to hold together.

Gently knead the dough on a lightly floured surface about ten times, or just until the dough is smooth and holds together. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

While the dough is cooling in the refrigerator, make the apricot filling. Place the filling ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the orange juice is absorbed. Let the filling cool a little before proceeding.
Let the apricots absorb the orange juice.
Roll the dough out on a board lightly covered with confectioner's sugar, which will slightly glaze the baked cookie and make it a little sweeter. Work with part of the dough at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated so that it stays cool. Cut the dough out into circles with the cookie cutter.
Cutting out the dough. Notice that the rolling pin technique here is not perfect, and neither is the cut-out circle. Taste-wise, that didn't make a bit of difference in the final hamantaschen.
For the apricot filling: place about a teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Be generous with the filling. Store-bought hamantaschen are notorious for being mostly dough, with just a teeny dab of filling inside. When making them at home, you can top 'em up with as much filling as you like.
Adding the filling

For the chocolate filling: place three chocolate callets in the center of each circle.

Shape into triangles by pushing two of the outer sides of dough upward toward each other, then pushing the bottom part of the dough up to form the bottom of the triangle. Pinch the dough seams together at each corner of the triangle, letting the filling show in the middle.
Making a triangle shape
Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Makes approximately 1-1/2 dozen hamantaschen.


  1. If you ever want to stop by for Purim with some of these, please feel free. They look delicious! Enjoy :D

  2. Oh my goodness! They look delicious. For a pastry as pretty as these, they seem surprisingly not that complicated to make. For what it's worth, they used to sell these at Noah's Bagels in Berkeley, many years ago, before the company was bought out by a larger corporation.

  3. I hear rumors that you can find them at Costco, but since I don't have a Costco membership, I'll never know! They are indeed much less complicated to make than they appear -- I can say that first hand considering my minimal pastry-making skills.